Originally posted in 2011. Updated with two of my new favorite appliances.
Back in my great grandmother’s day, she could whip up a mouth-watering feast with nothing more than a pot, a cutting board and a decent knife.
These days, however, we are blessed — and sometimes overwhelmed — with every kitchen gadget and appliance imaginable. I try to keep my kitchen streamlined, but there are some kitchen appliances that have become essential to my daily and weekly routine.
Here are the 7 small appliances I can’t live without — or, at least, would really not have to:
#1. Immersion Hand Blender
I love hand immersion blenders for making blended soups. But after melting my plastic-bottomed one in a pot of hot soup, I’ve switched over to the stainless steel kind. If you don’t already have one, the Cuisinart SmartStick Immersion Hand Blender is my #1 recommendation.
I love that the bottom part comes off easily for washing, so I can clean it in a cinch. Having low and high speedings is also handy – and that cup it comes with it pretty awesome, too. I use my blender for lots of different things — everything from salad dressings to homemade mayo to those blended soups.
#2. Cuisinart Food Processor
I’ve done without a food processor for many years, and it’s definitely possible to shred or dice by hand. But, man, is it sure is easier with a food processor. Five years ago, I received a Cuisinart food processor as a Chanukah gift from my dad and stepmom and it’s definitely one of my favorite presents! I make yummy, fresh salads in mine for Shabbat, and finely chop up herbs in a jiffy.
Mine was purchased from Costco, but here’s the same 9-cup Cuisinart model on Amazon. I recommend at least a 9-cup capacity – bigger is better when it comes to a food processor.
We don’t have a toaster oven, but an actual push-down-the-bread-and-wait-for-it-to-pop-up toaster. (Or, more often in our case, the waffle or bagel.) For five years, we had a $5 toaster from Big Lots. We finally had to retire it to the appliance graveyard when we moved to Ohio, but we got a new one from Bed, Bath & Beyond – for just $15 after a coupon.
This may not seem like that critical of an appliance, but as my husband reminded me, at our house, toaster = breakfast most mornings. Sigh. We still haven’t gotten ourselves organized enough to have a proper sit-down breakfast most mornings, so the kiddos often get handed a toaster waffle on their way out the door.
#4. High Power Blender
We saved to splurge on a Blendtec Blender 3.5 years ago. This blender costs more than the rest of the appliances in this post combined. And yet it’s still on my list!
My husband has a green smoothie every morning for breakfast – and the Blendtec makes it so simple. We’re able to blend frozen and fresh ingredients, with very little water. I also use the blender to make quick and easy desserts: banana “ice cream”, avocado chocolate pudding, and even our yummy lemon strawberry sorbet. We’ve also made cold and hot soups in our blender. Oh, and salsa!
As you guys probably already know, we love our bread machine for making challah. Well, technically for mixing, kneading and letting our challah dough rise.
Since bakery challot can cost as much as $5 or $6 each, our bread machine has more than paid for itself in 2.5 years of use. It also saves me an immeasurable amount of time. I wish I was a kneed-by-hand type, but I have to be honest with myself: I’m just not. The bread machine is the only way my family is getting homemade challah every week.
We bought our West End bread machine four years ago, and I’ve been very happy with it. Unfortunately that model is no longer available, but here is the newest version of it – which comes with a 2.5-lb capacity. I make my challah dough with 5-6 cups of flour and that makes two big or three medium size challot.
I don’t even drink coffee, and yet I’m putting the Keurig on my list because I love my husband, who does drink coffee! We had a majorly cheap (less than $5), scratch-and-dent coffee maker for years, but then three years ago I WON a Keurig at a blogger’s conference. Talk about lucky!
Having that coffee brewed and ready to go in the morning is a major pick-me-up for my husband – and I enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or Chai tea every now and again, too. As I said, we won ours, but if you are looking for a good deal on a Keurig, stay tuned for Black Friday — Kohl’s or Target always have great Keurig deals.
#7. Crock Pot(s)
Yes, crockpotS. Plural. We have two – one for meat and one for pareve. We make cholent at least a couple of times a month in the winter; and two weeks ago, I forayed into crock pot chicken soup, which I think is a great hot Shabbat lunch option as well. (Find more non-cholent options for Shabbat in my Crock Pot Recipe Exchange.)
I use our pareve slow cooker for everything from tomato sauce to chickpeas. It saves a lot of money to buy dried beans instead of canned and the slow cooker is the easiest way I’ve found to make them.
One Appliance I Could Live Without
I know this is going to be surprising as most people LOVE their KitchenAids. I love mine, too. It’s a real workhorse! It whips up my cookie bars a cinch and is great for making meringues. But… the reality is that I’m not a huge baker, so if I had to pick on appliance I could live without, it would probably be my mixer.
What are your favorite kitchen appliances? Which ones could you live without?